Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: February 2019

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. I was so inspired by booktuber’s, BooksandLala, Closet Unhaul series to tackle my own TBR in a similar method. I'm going to challenge myself to read books from my old hauls and if I can’t complete them within the month, I must unhaul them the next month. Also, any readathons or other challenges for the month will also be posted in this monthly post.

In January, I tackled my December 2010 book haul, completing 3 books. I was so excited to start Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler, expecting a cute romance. However, there was barely any romance and it just wasn’t what I wanted at all. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins was my first ever foray into Hawkins’ writing and as much as I wasn’t crazy about the book, I’m still going to read more from Hawkins in the future. Inception: The Shooting Script was such an easy and fast read; the book includes the script with a few little extras as well. If you’re a fan of the movie, definitely check it out!

Now on to this month's reads from an old haul. This month I'll be working on my January 2011 book haul. There's quite a lot of books but I was able to find some of them in audio so I'm hoping the list looks more overwhelming than they actually are:

Deadly Little Voices by Laurie Faria Stolarz: Laurie Faria Stolarz is my number favorite author. I have only 3 unread books of hers and then I have to wait for her next work. I have no doubt, however, that I will love this one!

Bite Club by Rachel Caine: I’m working my way through the longest book series ever: the Morganville Vampire series. It’s been a great time to see what all my favorite characters have been up to.

Graveminder by Melissa Marr: Zombies aren’t really my thing. Actually, they’ve never really been my thing so I can’t tell you why I picked up this book. Except Melissa Marr is the author of the Wicked Lovely series which I adored back in the day. I’m hesitant to see how she does with this adult fiction about zombies.

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick: I’ve heard a lot of people say this book, the third book, is the worst of all in the series. The second one was good so I’m hoping for a similar outcome here. We shall see.

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith: In my bookish goals, I hope to finish 12 series this year and I specifically listed this one. I only have two more books to go and then I finish the series. I can’t say that I remember the last book very clearly but I’m hoping it will all come back to me sooner than later.


Contemporary-a-thon is hosted by booktubers: ChelseaDolingReads, MelToTheAny, Pages and Pens, and MyReadingisOdd. Here’s the announcement and challenges for the readathon. This readathon takes place between February 11th to the 17th. Participants have to read all contemporary novels. There are 7 challenges for the readathon. Here’s the books I hope to get to:

Read the most recent contemporary book you purchased/acquired: Meet Cute by various authors
Read book with blue or purple on the cover: Deadly Little Voices by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Read a diverse contemporary: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Read a dark/emotional/hard-hitting contemporary: A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
Read a contemporary that you meant to read in 2018 but didn’t: That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
Read a contemporary in a non-traditional format: Still Me by Jojo Moyes
Read a contemporary with some sort of picture on the spine: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

What are you planning on reading this month?

Top Ten Tuesday

10 2019 Releases I'm On the Fence About

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

There are so many amazing books releasing this year. And I can’t possibly read them all. Well, I could try but then my TBR would be long enough to fill its own bookstore. It’s not like I add all the new releases to my wishlist either. There are a few that I would like to read but I’m kind of unsure about.

The following list is in order by release date. Let me know if you’re planning on reading any of these. Or you’ve read them already and definitely recommend. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Upcoming Releases I'm On the Fence About:

Enchantée by Gita Trelease (2/5/19): This one releases today and I’m still not sure if I should pick it up. From the reviews I’ve read, they most have all been negative. But it’s set in France which is such a win for me. However, it’s not quite enough to nudge me into reading it.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (2/26/19): There are two tracks this school will set you on: run a husband’s household or raising his children. Despite being the top student, Daniela’s enrollment circumstances is a lie. She also becomes a spy at one point. It’s categorized as a fantasy and I love my fantasy but I’m also very picky about my fantasy so I just don’t know.

Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury (2/26/19): Anastasia retelling set in space. But science fiction is not my thing, which is why I haven’t read Heart of Iron which is also an Anastasia retelling set in space.

Killing November by Adriana Mather (3/26/19): An isolated boarding school that teaches the aspiring assassins, yes please. A student is murdered and everyone is pointing fingers at November. This sounds fantastic and the early reviews have raved highly about it. However, for some reason I’m still hesitant.

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie (3/26/19): The synopsis doesn’t blatantly say pirates but Poe is the captain of a mining ship that now seeks revenge of those who wronged her. So pirates, right? Pirates are one of my favorite things. However, Ally Condie’s books are not—Matched and I did not click.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad (5/14/19): Why is fantasy so difficult to choose for me? This sounds amazing from what I’ve read about it but I also can’t even tell you what it’s about. Besides having a gorgeous cover, there was just too much and too little in the synopsis to really convince me to read it yet.

Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra (5/21/19): A medical prodigy works in a hospital. She falls in love with a patient who was diagnosed with cancer. And I just don’t think I’m ready for this level of heartbreak.

The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos (5/28/19): In Ruby’s family, when one comes of age, they will see a vision of who they will be when they die. “Who they will be,” what does that mean? Like will they die a doctor or will their vision be more obscure—they’ll die heartbroken. I just don’t know. I’m intrigued but not convinced yet.

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud (7/30/19): Did someone say a prince in disguise? I’m here for it. Except the cheesy cover makes me think it’s a super young YA and I just don’t know about that, at the moment.

Living Doll by Lisa Brown (2019): This one sounds terrifying and I don’t know how it could be YA. It’s a graphic novel of conjoined twins. When an operation goes terribly wrong, one twin has to live with the deceased twin still attached. Like, what!

Which upcoming releases are you on the fence about?

book review

Contemporary Beauty and the Beast | A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Friday, February 01, 2019

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 1/29/19
Pages: 496
Source: Netgalley (Thanks, Bloomsbury!)
In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer. Fall in love, break the curse. It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope. Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world. Break the curse, save the kingdom. A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Harper is supposed to be the lookout for her brother. When she witnesses an almost-kidnapping, she cannot just stand there and watch it happen. When Grey, a Royal Guard, drags Harper to His Highness’ feet, there seems to be something different about this girl. Rhen needs to break the curse—which is harder than it looks—to free his kingdom, his guard, and himself. In this magical retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer captures the hearts of readers.

Whimsical Writing

  • It took me mere pages to know that I was going to love this book. The writing is what truly gripped me from the start. Kemmerer reimagines a contemporary Beauty and the Beast like you've never seen it before. Despite its modernity, the whimsy of the fairytale is still strong. 
  • I was hesitant at first because of the length, totaling around almost 500 pages. However, every single page sweeps you away into this gorgeous tale. The pacing is so fast, and if it wasn’t for my need to sleep, I would’ve finished the book in one sitting. Kemmerer builds an enchanting story that grips you in at every scene. 

Realistic Characters

  • Harper was born with cerebral palsy. I’m not very knowledgeable in the disorder but I’m glad Kemmerer includes a brief Author’s Note for those who wish to seek out more information. Harper’s courage to fight was extremely relatable. As much as we only glimpse into her life, it’s filled with memories that create such a detailed character. Sure, I would have enjoyed some flashbacks of her life before meeting Rhen, instead of a description of a short memory or even photos on a cellphone. However, I expect that her development—and, hopefully, her back story will continue to grow in the sequel.  
  • In all Beauty and the Beast retellings, you can’t very well retell the story without the beast and A Curse So Dark and Lonely is no exception. However, Kemmerer takes the notion of the beast and turns it upside down. Rhen is free to be his human self in the lovely days of summer but when the season changes, so does the man. The beast is revealed and seemingly has very little human tendencies. It truly is a new way to see the tale. 
  • Rhen is broody, mysterious, and strives to be better. He plays the perfect Beast in the retelling. Something I adored about this retelling is that the stakes are much higher. Rhen has been trying to break the curse for years and the enchantress decides that this will be the last season he gets the chance to. There may not have been rose petals falling in the West Wing but readers can feel Rhen’s desperation and hope to be free.
beauty and the beast rose GIF
  • The story is told in two perspectives: Rhen's and Harper's. Both voices were entirely different. Since they both came from very different backgrounds and time periods, their voices reflect their experiences. Harper is brave, cautious and a bit rough around the edges. Rhen is stately, shameful and almost exhausted. 

Beauty and the Beast Retellings

  • Side note: I've been seeing a lot of reviews compare this to Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses. Even before reading, it was giving me major ACOTAR vibes especially with the cover. With both being Beauty and the Beast retellings, the comparison is rather inevitable. However, they are extremely different. First off, A Curse So Dark and Lonely has zero faeries. And whereas Maas' version of Beauty and the Beast follows a little more closely to the classic by Gabrielle-Suzanne Bardot de Villeneuve; the version in A Curse So Dark and Lonely has many elements from Disney's version. Also, ACOTAR is meant for an older audience with its sexual content. This book is meant for the YA audience, and has no graphic sexual content whatsoever. The two characters share some kisses but do not go beyond that.

Still Feeling the Book Hangover

  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely is, in fact, book one to a new series. And if the first book is any indicator, this series is one to watch out for. I'm already counting down the days for the sequel to release.
  • Kemmerer ties up a lot of loose ends, especially within the Beauty and the Beast story arc. Based on the reveal at the end, the sequel is sure to go deeper into the world Kemmerer has created. And the ending does leave some major questions unanswered. This book made quick work of putting me in a book hangover that—it’s been days—I’m still not over. 


A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is a magnificent retelling of the Beauty and the Beast with its superb writing, fast pace and its relatable characters. This is a fantastic start to a new series.

kickin' it

Kickin' It: January 2019 Wrap Up

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. It's a new year and I'm hoping for big things to happen. I have some goals, bookish and otherwise, to accomplish this year and I'm well on my way to completing some of them already. Especially my bookish goal -- I read 16 books this month! I don't know how I did it, maybe through a balance of reading and listening to audiobooks. I'm ecstatic about that turn out and can't wait to read more. Here's my January wrap up:

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith (4 stars) : This swoon-worthy book needs to be on your radar. It has everything I love in it—matchmakers, handsome boys, and a romance that will knock your socks off. Also, it gives off major She’s the Man vibes, where everyone is in love with everyone else!

American Panda by Gloria Chao (3 stars): My main reasons for picking this up, besides the cutest cover, was my expectation of a fluffy romance and a Taiwanese female lead who stands up to her parents. It sounded remarkable! Sadly, there was minimal fluffy romance scenes (however, I cherished every scene with the two together). And while standing up to her parents was empowering, I felt like a lot of it was glossed over and could have explored the dynamics and emotional break more than it did.

Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen (5 stars): Love, love love! If this series could go on for forever, that would be great. Please and thank you.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (5 stars): Soon after rereading the first book in the series, it was finally time to continue and this book blew away all my expectations. Mara Dyer was such a fantastic unreliable narrator in the first book but Hodkin kicks it up to a whole new level. And that ending leaves you in dire need of the third and final book!

Inception: the Shooting Script by Christopher Nolan (5 stars): One of the best films of all time! This book allows for you to get up close and personal to a few panel-by-panel storyboards, as well as the wonderful script. There's also a wonderful introduction that gives readers an inside look into the film. And even a detailed instruction manual of the dream machine from the movie.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (5 stars): It seems I’m reading all the five star reads this month—what’ll be left for the rest of the year? A contemporary take on Beauty and the Beast that will certainly have you on the edge of your seat. It was so difficult to put this one down with its non-stop action, strong female protagonist, and slow burn romance!

Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler (3 stars): I wasn't expecting the book to be so heavy in the wolf debate. I was expecting much more boy drama than there was. And even though Chandler gets us deep in the discussion of protecting the wolves, the characters felt rather flat. The brief romance was also understated and rather strange. I didn't really connect to anyone-- and while the topic was interesting, it wasn't enough for me to really love the book.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (3 stars): I adored the writing! It was fast paced and funny- sometimes downright hilarious! From a title like Hex Hall, I was expecting a bit more magical boarding school vibes than we got. The eclectic cast of creatures was pretty cool- not only were there witches and warlocks but fairies and vampires too. The book really opens up a lot of questions that remain unanswered.

This Is Kind of An Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender (3 stars): The diversity is amazing in this. Plus, I've never before read a book about a character who uses ASL (American Sign Language). It was a really cute story. Except... most of the characters were a bit flat. There's minimal development, which was disappointing. I liked it, but I really wanted to love it and that didn't happen.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (5 stars): I rarely read graphic novels but I just had a feeling about this one. It is an absolutely lovely and endearing story. And the art is stunning! It holds such a powerful message to all readers. And it is definitely a book I will return to again and again.

Black Wings Beating by Alex London (3.5 stars): London creates an intricate world that was a bit confusing in the beginning. The story follows twins, Kylee and Brysen, who embark on a journey to capture the Ghost Eagle to save Brysen’s boyfriend from his debts. It was entertaining and fast paced with fun action sequences.

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth (3.5 stars): This was such an adorable read! It's a lovely time travel romance and as much as it doesn't explain or develop a few things, it was a fluffy contemporary. And, of course, with Shakespeare- how could one go wrong?

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson (3 stars): I really liked the first book, Suite Scarlett, so I went into this with a considerable amount of expectations. And it was going good and I was liking it as much as I liked the previous book until that ending happened. Which should not be called an ending since we are left, basically, in the middle of the story.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (4 stars): I was so hesitant to pick this up. All I’ve seen were piles of mixed reviews and I found Felicity annoying in the first book. However, I am so glad I read this. There were times where Felicity grated on my nerves but for the majority of the novel, I absolutely adored everything about it! Girl power for the win!

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh (4.5 stars): I finished this in one sitting because I just couldn’t stop reading. Flame in the Mist was great but, dare I say, the sequel was better. There are a few issues that really stopped the book becoming a 5-star read for me though, like some of the plot felt underdeveloped.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (4 stars): This one had everything I wanted and more. Two different worlds, fairytales, a creepy house with moving rooms, and a quest to find out what happened to her mother. That superb writing also makes me want to pick up everything by Albert in the future!

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith | Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen

Enchantee by Gita Trelease (2/5/19): If there’s a book set in France, you can be sure that I will be reading it. The book follows Camille who must provide for her frail sister after her brother leaves with all their finances. She decides to use forbidden magic to pursue a catch at the royal court. Her game is a dangerous one.

Honor Bound by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre (2/19/19): I’ve been waiting ever since the first one, Honor Among Thieves, released for this sequel. It’s one of the only sci-fi novels I’ve ever adored so I have pretty high expectations.

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West (2/5/19): This sounds like a classic Kasie West and I just can’t wait for all the romance!

I’m reading much more than usual so you’d think I’d be watching less than usual but nope. I don’t quite know where I’m finding all this time to read but it isn’t coming out of my watching time. Strange. I watched some amazing things this month. Starting with Netflix’s Dark, which was absolutely captivating. It’s a time travel mystery that simply blew me away. I’m working my way through Release the Hounds which is as unbelievable as ever. Also, I just started Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo which is interesting and I’m gaining a bunch of inspiring organizational tips I’d love to try in the future. As for movies, I saw Glass which was good, yet entirely disappointing. Overall, lots of amazing TV shows this month—what a great way to start the year!

excited marie kondo GIF

How was your January? What books did you read? Did you watch any shows/movies?

Top Ten Tuesday

12 Most Recent Books I've Added to my To-Read Pile

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

As much as I would like to thank all my gift cards from Christmas for most of my January haul, I also haven't received some of the books I've ordered yet. Free shipping is always amazing but you also have to wait extra long to get them in the mail, that way. Back in the first year of blogging, I used to do a monthly haul post and it just occurred to me that I don't really do that anymore. Now, I just post a lovely book haul over on my Instagram. Is that something I should bring back on here?

I've separated this list into two sections: one for my physical TBR and the other for the books I added recently on Goodreads. Lately, I have been focusing on upcoming releases so all the books I've added on Goodreads aren't out yet. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 12 Most Recent Books I've Added to my TBR:

Physical TBR

An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker: I recently heard about this one and went right out to purchase it. And it has everything I absolutely adore in books: a disguised identity, Shakespeare, star-crossed lovers, and more.

Meet Cute by various authors: We could always use some more meet cutes in our lives. And several short stories that feature them-- I'm swooning already.

Shit It by Britta Lundin: I was so excited to finally find a copy of this. However, after reading a lot of reviews which say this one is extremely problematic, I have since lost interest. I will read it one day but can't tell you how soon that will be. Ship It follows Claire, a fan, who confronts the main lead of her favorite TV show when he rejects her fan theory. When there's a PR blunder, the show reaches out to Claire to make it all right.

Neverwake by Amy Plum: I finished Dreamfall, the first in the duology, last month and knew I needed to dive into this one soon. This series follows a sleep study gone wrong when an earthquake hits and all the participants fall into connected comas, where they each share the same nightmare space. I just hope they all wake up but the title of this one feels like a huge spoiler.

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera: Finally, right?! I'm excited for a fluffy romance!

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes: I've heard amazing things about this but I don't even know what it's about. However, I was approved on Netgalley for Romanov and was hoping to check out her writing style before I dive into her newest one.

Books-to-be-Released TBR

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (2019): Is anyone else incredibly happy that the books spell out, "Carry On, Wayward Son"? I liked Carry On a lot so I'm excited Rowell is giving us a sequel!

Hungry Hearts edited by Elise Chapman (6/18/19): An anthology about food, culture, and family. The stomach is already grumbling in anticipation!

Maybe This Time by Kasie West (7/9/19): A new Kasie West; yes, please! This follows Sophie, a florist, who attends lots of events for her clients. And every time, Andrew, the son of a fancy chef, is always getting in her way. What starts as annoyance quickly becomes something else. 

Enchantee by Gita Trelease (2/5/19): Set in Paris in 1789, Camille infiltrates the royal ranks at court in order to save her family. It's set in France, that's all I needed to know. 

Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard (5/7/19): A new Aveyard book and its a short story collection set in the Red Queen world? Yes! Please tell me it'll tie up all those loose ends from War Storm.

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (11/19/19): I may not be finished with her previous series, but I am ready for whatever Clare writes! To be honest, I wasn't expecting another book in the Shadowhunters world but you can bet I'm going to read it, regardless.

What books have you recently added to your TBR?